I’m glad you’re here.
Being a good listener is a skill that doesn’t get talked about enough.
But it is so valuable in so many ways.
Whether you want to become that better friend or partner to your loved ones.
Or you want to use the skill to learn new things.
Or maybe you’re embarking on a new career and you want to win people over. People love talking about themselves, so if you become good at listening, people are going to walk away from those initial meetings with you thinking you’re awesome. It’s crazy. You can be liked MORE by not providing much of any information about yourself.
Being a good listener has endless benefits, and here are some of our go-to tips for how to strengthen that skill.
#1 – Stay PRESENT.
Don’t be wandering off in thought about how you are going to respond to what the other individual is saying. I know, I know, you want to think about that story or a way to relate to their opinion, I get it. But in the process of doing that, you’re missing out on a lot of what that person has to say. They’re giving you a different perspective, telling you about life experiences you’ve never had, providing you with new information. Hear it. Absorb it. Learn something from it.
#2 – Ask a Question.
Once the other individual is done conveying their opinion, story, or idea. STILL HOLD BACK. Do not provide your opinion, do not provide a story that will allow you to relate to them. Don’t do it. But instead, ask a question first. Get the other individual to flesh out their statement further. Or if they are telling you a story about their childhood, ask a question that allows them to expand on the experience, or go deeper in their telling of it.
By asking a question, you’re benefiting in two ways: 1) you’re showing this other individual that you are interested in them, and that you are hearing them, 2) you’re learning something. You know your own experiences, stories, opinions. You don’t need to take up space by telling them over and over again. What are YOU gaining from that?
Once you feel like you’ve fleshed out their perspective, their story. At this point, feel free to add in your anecdote if you think it would add value to the conversation, or if the other individual asks.
You’ll be amazed at how you can have a conversation with someone that spans multiple hours, and can not provide a single personal anecdote. I do it quite often, and I love it. I get to learn, and they get to feel good about talking about themselves. Win-win!
#3 – Understand what they NEED.
Now, this tip applies to more personal relationships. For instance, when a friend is going through a difficult life situation. It’s only natural for so many of us to want to jump in and help the ones we love, but sometimes they don’t need help, they need space to vent, express their emotions and have someone there to support them.
This next tip is to ask your loved ones upfront about what they need when it seems like your conversation is heading in that direction, so you can support them in the best possible way.
It’s just a simple – ‘I want to make sure I’m supporting you in the best way possible through this – for our chat, do you want me to listen or do you want me to provide advice or help you problem solve in any way?’
I’ve always been the problem-solver friend. My friends know this, and a lot of times come to me when their problems need to be solved. However, by asking this question, I’m strengthening my ability to know when I need to problem-solve versus listen.
Ultimately, when people come up with the solutions for themselves, they typically stick with it more than when they are told what to do. So by being there as a friend, listening, letting them come to the right result on their own, you’re helping them far more than if you just told them what to do right off the bat.
This is something I have to be incredibly conscious about but am making progress! It’s not easy for some.
#4 – Convey what YOU need.
Help others in your life become a better listener for you by conveying what you need. For instance, if you know the solution to your problem, but you just want to vent about it to a girlfriend, and you don’t want her to tell you what you already know. Tell her upfront. It’s simple, ‘Hey, I know I need to quit my job, but I just need to vent for ten minutes about how sucky it was today. Can you listen to me as I get it all off my chest real quick?’
By practicing both sides of listening, you’ll become much more self-aware of all sides when going about your day-to-day.
#5 – You only have things to gain.
I’ve touched on this a bit throughout, but when meeting new people, or working through a project with co-workers, or spending time with loved ones, realize that you only have things to gain by being a great listener. You know your life like the back of your hand. You know your opinions. You know your experiences. You’ve probably expressed them all at least several times in your life already, so why do it more?
By listening, you have opportunities to grow. To learn new things. To adapt your opinion or perspective.
By no means am I saying to never express your opinion, or connect through others through mutual storytelling or experiences, but it’s to use it way more sparingly than you think, and farther along in the relationship-building process than you’d imagine.
We hope these tips help as you become a better listener.